view inside Escape Pod with Table
Source: Lounge Guide

Review: Escape Pods (Austin Bergstrom International Airport)

The Escape Pod (also known as Jabbrrbox) is a personal pod found in select airports that provides a quiet area to work or relax. These pods offer an option for getting out of the crowds and focusing. These pods are especially nice if you don't have lounge access or need a quick quiet place. I recently (Friday, September 16th, 2022) got a chance to try out one of these pods at the Austin Airport (AUS) and was impressed. Escape Pods are currently located in the following (12) airports AUS, CVG, GSP, JAX, JFK, OAK, ONT, PDX, PIT, SEA, SYR, and XNA.

Austin (AUS) airport has a total of 6 of these pods located in areas around the Barbara Jordan Terminal. For my review, I chose the location across from gate 22 (location AUS BJT-4). During my time in the pod, the terminal was very busy, there was a flight boarding at gate 22, and there were normal airport (PA) announcements.

Reserving & Access

When you walk up to the Escape Pod you will see a touch-screen where you can directly book or enter an unlock code provided by their (Android or iOS) mobile app. I used their (Jabbrrbox) mobile application to book my reservation. After installing the app, creating an account, and entering a credit card I was ready to reserve a lounge. With the mobile app I was able to quickly make a reservation. Since I was reviewing this pod and not planning on staying too long, I chose their shortest interval of 15 minutes (see pricing below). I waited at the pod for a minute or two until the screen changed from the "Book Now" to "Unlock Door" screen. I entered my unlock code and the door unlocked.

Features

The pod is both simple and a bit complex at the same time. Once you open the pod door you will see the table, screen, and seat. I was traveling lightly so I only had one small bag that I was able to place under the desk area with some room for my feet. If I was traveling with more luggage I think that would be a problem since the pod does not have much extra space for storage. The walls in the pod are covered with padded fabric, which helped isolate the sound and remove any echo from inside the pod. The table area is large enough for a full-size laptop and space for an external mouse or writing area. There is a small switch and power panel (USB-A, USB-C, and AC) located on the right side wall near the table. I was not 100% sure what the two switches did, I was not able to dim the LED lights even though it was mentioned in the features. It actually took me a minute or so to figure out that one of the switches controlled the cooling fan located at the top of the pod. I am guessing that one of the unlabeled switches also controlled the lighting.

There is also a monitor and webcam mounted on the wall above the desk. I did not test this since it required a login I did not have and I am not sure what benefit would be gained from using this in the pod. I think most people would use their laptop or phone to  join a teleconference. The last item I tested was the included (encrypted) Wi-Fi service. This is a nice feature for those that don't have internet access, but unfortunately, the performance was mediocre. During my Wi-Fi speed test the pod scored 7.31 (Mbps) down and 0.51 (Mbps) up.

escape pod speed test results 7.31 down and 0.51 up

One of the common reasons people enjoy lounges and places such as this pod is to get away from the loud and busy terminal. During the visit, I did some sound recording inside and outside of the Pod and the results were really impressive. The overall sound results were 52.9 dB which equates to a quiet office. 

escape pod sound gauge showing 52.9 dB
Pricing

Pod pricing is based on how long you are in the Pod. Starting at 15 minutes up to 300 minutes (5 hours). Up to 2 people can be in the pod assuming they follow the rules defined in terms of use. I think the pricing is a bit too high, I would consider offering discounted pricing based on longer stay time. I would also remove the 15-minute option and make 30 minutes the minimum. To me pricing, each 30 minutes at $10 seems simple and fair.

Pricing (USD) as of 10/2022 (plus taxes)
15 minutes$10
30 minutes$15
45 minutes$25
60 minutes (1 hour)$30
90 minutes$45
120 minutes (2 hours)$60
150 minutes$75
180 minutes (3 hours)$90
300 minutes (5 hours)$100
Pros
  • the pod was clean and in great shape
  • the noise isolation does make a difference, especially if you are wanting to work or have a quiet call
  • the pod was comfortable, I really could focus on work here for an hour or two
Cons
  • 3A USB port does not support fast charging or laptop charging, although I could dig out my AC plug to accomplish this.
  • I had trouble figuring out what each of the switches do (labels would be helpful)
  • monitor, webcam, and Wi-Fi seem like useful features but are not needed in my opinion, especially with poor Wi-Fi performance.
Closing Thoughts

If you are in an airport and don't have lounge access this is one of the better options to get away from the hustle and bustle. I would love Escape Pod to partner with Priority Pass or American Express to offer access to members. I covered most of the features of the Escape Pod but there is also a FAQ that will provide more information about the use of the pod.